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A highly debated topic will go back before the Huntsville City Council one month after it was postponed with a 5-4 vote.

Four nearly a month, Councilman Blake Irving (Ward 3) has asked the city to amend its vacation buyback program, that he says punishes employees who don’t take enough time off. Current policy requires staff to use 80 hours of vacation time in order to sell back up to 40 hours.

“I think that the 80 hour rule is pointless and a lot of people aren’t able to participate because they didn’t use enough time,” Irving said during a meeting last month. “This policy of the 80 hour requirement is fighting against you.”

The councilman noted that management uses the prerequisite to “ensure” employees are taking time off from work.

“This policy as it stands is ineffective, as it simply can be bypassed with staff not participating in the program and not having to take days off. Removing the 80-hour prerequisite will allow staff to participate consecutively and allow for them to “take time off when needed” as they will have the necessary hours to do so,” he added.

Fellow council members voiced opposition to the policy change at last month’s meeting, stating that employees hadn’t brought the issue forward to city management.

I think the 80 hour rule is a good rule, in that you want employees to take at least 80 hours vacation. To waive the requirement so employees have the option of selling back is a deterrent to a happy employee,” Mayor Andy Brauninger said.

City finance director Steve Ritter, said that the city consistently goes over it’s $50,000 budget on the vacation buy-back program with the current policy.


During Tuesday’s city council meeting, members are expected to hold a lengthy session behind closed doors, with four items on the agenda.

According to the agenda, council will seek legal advice on the evaluation, review and employment of city charter officers, issues in regards to the Walker County Hospital Corporation bankruptcy filing and problems with the new police headquarters and fire station buildings. Council will also review the employment of the city secretary position.


Tuesday’s meeting is currently scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Huntsville City Hall. The meeting will also be live-streamed at and at

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